From Uche Usim, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday, appealed to manufacturers and other players in the construction industry to immediately crash the prices of building materials to enable the government and the citizens enjoy the gains of a modernised nation via infrastructure renewal.
Emefiele made the appeal in Sokoto State at the inauguration of BUA Group’s cement production line 4.
‘We appeal to our manufacturers in the manufacturing sector to please take urgent action in bringing down the price of building materials in Nigeria. Indeed, there have recently been calls by construction companies urging our cement and steel manufacturers to do something about the skyrocketing price of two essential items in the construction industry. “This sector is one of the major sectors in the economy helping to create employment and boost economic growth in Nigeria. We are aware that our cement manufacturers are producing both for domestic and export needs but we urge you to pay more attention to satisfying our domestic needs so that prices can come down,’ he said.
‘On our part, the CBN wishes to reiterate its determination to provide the needed support for the importation of your needed spares, plants and equipment needed to increase your production capacity of cement plants in the country.’
Emefiele assure that the apex bank remains resolved to create a people-oriented CBN that will act as a catalyst for job creation and inclusive growth for Nigeria.
He hailed the Buhari administration for leading the charge in steering the economy away from an import dependent one to one that is self-reliant in the last seven years by insisting on producing what is consumed locally and locally consuming what is produced.
‘To conserve forex, a decision was taken in 2015 to restrict access of foreign exchange to 43 items that could be produced locally but for which billions of dollars was spent annually to import.
‘One of the items was cement. We were aware that the key raw material for cement production is limestone and it is readily available locally,’ he added.
Emefiele expressed joy that local cement production capacity has doubled from 30 million metric tons per annum (MTPA) in 2014 to about 60 million (MTPA) in 2021. “We’ve conserved billions of dollars and no forex from our reserves has gone into cement importation in the last seven years. This has created several thousands jobs.
‘It’s a reflection of the success of the backward integration policy of the Buhari administration. I urge potential investors willing to invest in green fields and brown fields to do so as the CBN will provide all the support needed in naira and dollars for the importation of equipment and plants,’ the CBN Governor stated.
In his remarks at the event, the Chairman of BUA Group, Mr Abdulsamad Rabiu, said his company will keep investing in cement until Nigerians access it cheaper and quicker and ultimately save the country billions of dollars in foreign exchange.